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"This means any PCs who did not go off-world are not fit to continue with the episode." 

You really expect any GM to tell his/her players that they cannot continue with the episode? Really?? Honestly, who did think of something like this at the beginning of the first episode? Neither players nor the GM have any experience with the system at this moment. To tell a GM to kick PCs out of the party for not jumping blindly into the gate without the instructor is not only a very bad style but most probably the end of the campaign before it has begun, since no one is gonna sit around at the table for the rest of the evening and do nothing. 

So my first task in this new season is to a) railroad my players to blindly jump through the gate and b) injure one PC in the process, giving them a bad experience.

Both are things I cannot do as a GM, which is why I made the following changes: First, the introduction already leads the players through the gate, since I know these guys will try to repair the coolant leak if given the chance, with the risk of getting injured and - following your rules - getting kicked out instead of a recovery. And second, they get an additional "red shirt" who gets the injury. 

I know the episodic structure forces a tighter story telling, but using just the methods that you yourself told us in the rulebook to avoid in our gameplay ..  that's not the way.

Edited by Hobbster
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On 10/11/2021 at 11:57 PM, Hobbster said:

"This means any PCs who did not go off-world are not fit to continue with the episode." 

You really expect any GM to tell his/her players that they cannot continue with the episode? Really?? Honestly, who did think of something like this at the beginning of the first episode? Neither players nor the GM have any experience with the system at this moment. To tell a GM to kick PCs out of the party for not jumping blindly into the gate without the instructor is not only a very bad style but most probably the end of the campaign before it has begun, since no one is gonna sit around at the table for the rest of the evening and do nothing. 

So my first task in this new season is to a) railroad my players to blindly jump through the gate and b) injure one PC in the process, giving them a bad experience.

Both are things I cannot do as a GM, which is why I made the following changes: First, the introduction already leads the players through the gate, since I know these guys will try to repair the coolant leak if given the chance, with the risk of getting injured and - following your rules - getting kicked out instead of a recovery. And second, they get an additional "red shirt" who gets the injury. 

I know the episodic structure forces a tighter story telling, but using just the methods that you yourself told us in the rulebook to avoid in our gameplay ..  that's not the way.

Agreed; when reading that I (perhaps generously) assumed it meant they cannot continue with the Act rather than the episode - i.e. they don't have the opportunity to find the symbol or deal with the broken DHD / storm, and instead we move on to Act 2 once they're recovered. 

What actually happened when I ran the scenario was my players immediately noticed they had protective masks as part of their base kit and tried to put them on, leaving me floundering as to whether or not that would actually work as it's not addressed in the adventure; it seems like it's an inhaled poison, so the masks should be effective protection - but later it mentions the character suffers "coolant burns" so it might be a physical injury instead..? It's quite unclear! The party was quite keen to put on their masks from their kit and then radio the rest of the base for further instructions (using the radio from their kit). I was a bit unsure how to handle this, and had to semi-force them through the gate saying they didn't have time to get the masks on (afterwards realising that they take 1 action to put on, so that wasn't accurate) and they couldn't get any response on the radio due to the crisis.

The primary purpose of the poisoning seems to be to encourage the party to head to the camp for treatment; however, they're just told they need a medpack - and their base kit includes personal medpacks, and the Medic player has a full medpack, so it seems as though they can use this to overcome the poisoning as soon as they're through the gate without needing to look for it at all. In this case I just let them do it as the player who was poisoned was pretty unhappy with the situation, and I can't really blame them as they'd tried everything they could to avoid it only to essentially be told "rocks fall".

Other more minor issues were they were a bit hesitant to surrender to J'ta but eventually went along with it - initially one player tried to keep J'ta talking whilst the others searched for a back way out of Karrasha's cave. Later, when put in the cages they spent a while discussing various escape plans (including the classic "My friend is sick [because of Wepawet's hand device]!"), before I could get a word in edgeways to play out the argument scene.

In both of these cases I think they were a bit disappointed that they didn't have the opportunity to come up with their own solutions, and instead were just "along for the ride" whilst the adventure narrative unfolded. I appreciate the episodic format requires a bit of a rigid structure but there still could have been room for them to come up with creative solutions, e.g. if they look for (+find subject to appropriate check) a back way out of the cave, then a Jaffa scout spots them and you run the chase encounter. If caught, move on to the scenes with Wepwawet; if they evade they get back to Earth but they haven't met the woman who freed them so they may be more wary of her in future - which could presumably be handled by just another flag in the after action report for whether they met her or not.

This has been a long post and sounding mostly negative so far, so I want to highlight that despite these slight issues I and the group did have a lot of fun, and the players mentioned they really liked the structure and episodic nature of the adventure, so it was definitely a positive experience overall!

Edited by Duke Flipside
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4 hours ago, Duke Flipside said:

Agreed; when reading that I (perhaps generously) assumed it meant they cannot continue with the Act rather than the episode - i.e. they don't have the opportunity to find the symbol or deal with the broken DHD / storm, and instead we move on to Act 2 once they're recovered. 

 

Yes, this way you can kind of homebrew a recovery, but the text states that they cannot continue the episode, not the act or the scene.. That's what surprised me, since the goal is to get players involved in the system, not push them right out.

 

Episodic structure: I was looking for such a RPG, since GMing an RPG with a complete arc over years is not only a lot of work but also sometimes frustrating, because players keep forgetting everything (that's normal and to be expected as they are invested differently into such a game). So I wanted to tone that down anyway, get more defined endpoints. Based on the idea of RPG shows like Relics&Rarities I was planning on switching to more complete mini stories with a general story arc stitching those episodes together.

The structure of the Stargate RPG fills this gap perfectly, so I'm very happy about the system and the rules feel just great so far - it just needs some balancing now and then because of the additional structure and the danger to suffocate the RP part with rules, but in general this can be leveled out with a bit experience of each encounter type and the flow of the story. And since my players and me already know Stargate by heart, this is a perfect match.

Given the episodic structure and the scenic progress however you have to balance out the adventures more, otherwise the players get the feeling pretty soon, that they are more like participating viewers instead of the protagonists influencing and changing the world. And I'm not sure, if a series like the living season is the right approach in the long run - that's an experiment, we'll see how this turns out. This will take weeks or even months to surface, but I'm having some doubts about the current approach.

To counter the effects however - given the tighter structure - it is important to define start and goal of a scene more clearly and then offer a wide spread of possible solutions, to give the players opportunities to experiment and freedom to decide. Kicking players out right in the beginning of an episode, a campaign even without a recovery scenario, that's a catastrophy and an absolute no go!

I kind of expect the opposite of the episode descriptions: lots of information about the worlds to have tools and options for the players to experiment with, play around with - and less solutions. As a GM I start reading the episodes and know nothing about each world either. Of course I can make things up but they won't fit the big picture, maybe even contradict following episodes. Creating a whole world for a relative short episode is also a bit too much work and there's too little reusability of skipped scenes due to the closed scenarios. On the other hand, solutions have to be flexible and are due to change by player's decisions.

So as a GM I'm also somewhat railroaded by the current episode approach too with the strict "go there, do that". What I'm missing is a section of background information of worlds, characters, technology, culture etc. The GM background section at the beginning of a chapter is a good approach but is still lacking hooks for different ideas, this hasn't to be much, a sentence is usually enough. Also there should be a lot more basic information. The specific solution however should be toned down somewhat (albeit I recognize this helps newer GMs who just follow the text). It is only important that players reach a goal, the fun part is finding out, how! That's what keeps a game interesting for players and GM! And some arc information would be really appreciated as a GM tool. This is something unknown to other RPGs, but they usually don't have a storyline like that.

 

We'll see how this series will turn out. At the moment I'm really happy with the rulebook and that there are stories at all. And the nature of Stargate feels perfect for an RPG. Now we need to find a balanced way between predefinition of stories and the degrees of freedom to live those stories. 

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I've found the best way to cope with this episode is to manage expectations ahead of time and tell players they should be treating this as the introductory tutorial level of a video game where you're railroaded through a bunch of basic plot and mechanics. Additionally, they should be reminded that capture and escape are somewhat mandatory plot beats in Stargate in order for the narrative to clue the characters in on the activities of the bad guys

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10 hours ago, 1001100x02 said:

I've found the best way to cope with this episode is to manage expectations ahead of time and tell players they should be treating this as the introductory tutorial level of a video game where you're railroaded through a bunch of basic plot and mechanics. Additionally, they should be reminded that capture and escape are somewhat mandatory plot beats in Stargate in order for the narrative to clue the characters in on the activities of the bad guys

I have to read another episode before I can do that. Because at the moment it is my (the GMs) expectations, that are not met at all. Usually the greatest fun as a game master/gate master/dungeon master is, when unexpected things happen, when the players are creative and use stuff in an unexpected way and i have to adapt the story on the fly: role play my way out of it!

The first episode however is a lot like a TV show, story driven, very little left and right and a lot of "if users don't do that, torture them, implant a Goa'uld, kill them". An RPG however is character driven, which means: the players are the heroes, the GM is responsible for the scenery and things to do, to judge the actions and to play NPCs, but the players decide where the story goes. I had hoped for something like that in an episodic form, defined start and end, but let the players have options how to solve the problems given. 

The first episode - as it is written - strangles everything fun, our last group (with me only as a player, I took a hiatus after 5 yrs GMing) dissolved after ~10 sessions because the GM did railroad too much, nothing was of consequence and it simply wasn't fun for anybody anymore. This episode is even more railroading. It's a TV show, prewritten. GMing not required.

I'll check another episode. I really hope you're right, that it's only the introduction. Most of the side missions seemed okay.

If not.. maybe I'll try something like adapting Rubit's Stargate:Horizon

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